Brand Rivalry

Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 4–12

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Brand rivalry and community conflict☆
Michael T. Ewing ⁎, Peter E. Wagstaff 1, Irene H. Powell 1
Department of Marketing, Monash University, 26 Sir John Monash Drive, Caulfield East 3145, Australia

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 1 October 2010
Received in revised form 1 March 2011
Accepted 1 April 2011
Available online 12 August 2011
Brand rivalry
Oppositional loyalty
Social comparison theory

a b s t r a c t
Conflict and rivalry are among the main reasons why human beings form groups and they determine what
goes on within and between groups. However, why is threatening competition such a strong driver of brand
community? How, where and why does rivalry or oppositional loyalty manifest itself within and between
brand communities? A netnographic study addresses these research questions by drawing on social identity,
social comparison, self-categorization and brand culture theory among Ford and Holden (GM) communities
in Australia. Findings suggest that rivalry between brand communities overtly manifests itself in the form of
humor, epithets and ridicule for the most part, but also tips over into malice and outright hostility on occasion.
While the underlying rivalry and conflict are continuous (and deep-rooted), certain events and occasions
serve to heighten latent tensions between communities. Another unique dimension to this particular brand
rivalry is vicarious alignment with one or other community even from non-users of either brand.
© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
In sociology, the concept of community leads to significant
scholarly debate. Over half a century ago, nearly a hundred discrete
definitions of the term were in use (Hillery, 1955). Throughout the
past decade social psychologists, consumer researchers and brand
culture theorists discuss what constitutes a community...